Next steps for Flitwick regeneration
Central Bedfordshire Council has published the results of its summer public consultation and its proposed next steps for delivering major improvements to Flitwick town centre and rail station, which were discussed at its Executive meeting on the 5th December.
This follows completion of a public consultation held during the summer which sought the views of residents, businesses and visitors on the development of a mixed-use regeneration scheme in the station area on Steppingley Road, and also improvements to the High Street, the Avenue, Station Road and Kings Road areas.
The consultation (which closed in September) found that plans to revamp the station area with new retail and other facilities were welcomed. Many survey respondents deemed them necessary to adjust for recent population growth.
Access to the station proved to be an important factor for residents and commuters alike as 78 per cent of respondents felt it was important to improve connections between bus and rail service at Flitwick, while 68 per cent wanted better cycle links to the station area. Many respondents mentioned that they wanted step-free access to the station, and better access to the station (by foot or by car) from the High Street and Station Road.
Proposed improvements in the Council’s £1.8million Market Town Regeneration Fund (in partnership with Flitwick Town Council) were also consulted on. This project would involve decluttering of the High Street/The Avenue and an enhanced local environment in the Kings Road and Station Road areas, including the forecourt of Barclays Bank. These proposals were welcomed, amidst a general sense that the area needed a refresh, alongside recognition that Flitwick has limited retail options and poor quality space
Council engineers will be reviewing the consultation findings ahead of finalising proposals for these areas. It is expected that these designs will form part of a statutory consultation early next year, with works commencing during the spring.
As well as reviewing the consultation findings for both projects, the Executive also approved a recommendation on how best to progress the potential development within the station area itself.
This will involve developing a formal partnership with Network Rail and private sector developers. As part of this partnership approach, funding for the development would be provided primarily by the private sector. This will mean that the financial risk to the Council is kept to a minimum.
During 2018, the Council, as part of a formal procurement process, would seek to identify a development partner capable of delivering this important project. Once in place, this partner would then be responsible for developing detailed proposals that would be subject to further consultation with the local community, and a detailed planning application.
Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Both of these projects will deliver major improvements to Flitwick town centre, making it a more attractive location and helping to support long-term economic growth. This will ensure that Flitwick is fully able to meet the needs of its residents and its wider locality as an important transport hub.”